Degree Guide

Let's face it, applying for programs can be overwhelming. There are many degree options and not everyone knows which to choose. That's okay!

Students who are on the path to becoming a professional musician and are pursuing a professional degree in the arts experience periods of change, exploration, and new discovery within and outside of their discipline. Your time at Eastern Michigan University is what I like to call the "golden era" of learning. It is your chance to cultivate as many skills within your discipline, develop a network of support, test the boundaries, ignite other passions, and take chances! This period of exploration can reinforce your commitment to the music profession or open up new career possibilities that you may not have considered.

If you're reading this with hopes to find more clarity, welcome! I hope this Degree Guide will be a useful resource for envisioning which degree is the best fit for you. And, if you have already chosen a degree and are preparing for your entrance audition, I hope this guide will provide more useful information about what professional opportunities await you.

Whether you are a first-year undergraduate or graduate cellist, or if you are a potential transfer student, our internationally acclaimed music faculty want you to realize your maximum potential and we are here to provide the best mentorship and support during this time of growth. Come build your artistic foundation and perform in completely new ways while staying grounded to who you are.

What are my music degree options?

For undergraduate cellists, the School of Music & Dance provides four degrees:

  • Music Education
  • Music Performance
  • Music Therapy
  • Bachelor of Arts in Music

For graduate cellists, the School of Music & Dance provides two music degrees:

  • Music Education
  • Music Performance

Explore the dropdown menus below to learn about each degree in detail:

  • Music Education (K-12 Music Education)

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    • Do you love kids?
    • Are you passionate about teaching and helping the next generation learn and develop an appreciation for music?
    • Do you see yourself teaching in the K-12 public school system as a music teacher or ensemble director or conducting scholarly research about innovative, inclusive, and effective ways of teaching and learning music?

    Our five-year program leads to teaching certification in music for grades K-12. Our supportive professors and staff blend foundational study with hands-on field-based learning. Small class sizes and an excellent student-to-teacher ratio allow our faculty time to focus on individual students. A local, full-time student teaching placement in your senior year will cap your studies, preparing you for subject matter testing and teaching certification.

    Successful completion of this course of study, along with passing the necessary Michigan Test(s) for Teacher Certification, qualifies the student for recommendation to the Michigan Department of Education Secondary Standard Certificate with a K-12 music endorsement, enabling a music teaching career in public and/or private school settings. Our graduates are serving in every educational environment imaginable. From the urban schools of Detroit, the surrounding suburban areas, to the rural communities, EMU alumni serve students and communities with distinction.

    If you have questions about the music education program or are wondering whether it’s the right path for you, feel free to contact Dr. Heather Shouldice.

    Program Details

  • Music Therapy

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    • Do you love science and music and how they intersect to change the lives of the people around you?
    • Are you interested in using the evidence-based practice of music to help clients meet their personalized goals?

    The Bachelor of Music Therapy degree combines science, artistry, and caring; and guides the development and refinement of musical, clinical, and interpersonal skills to address a range of non-musical, therapeutic goals. These skills are used to toward helping a wide variety of populations such as older adults, children, teens; individuals coping with developmental disabilities, mental illness, Parkinson's Disease, substance abuse; and utilized in forensic settings.

    As a music therapy student in EMU’s nationally ranked program, one of only two in the state of Michigan, your studies in this program will include coursework, performance and 1,200 hours of clinical training that will make you eligible to take the board certification exam through the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT). Our Bachelor of Music Therapy program is fully approved by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) and graduates from our program work in school settings, hospitals, hospices as well as their own private practice.

    Program Details

    Music Therapy Center

  • Music Performance

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    • Do you see yourself as a member of a professional symphony, opera orchestra, or chamber orchestra?
    • Or do you dream of performing as a soloist and chamber musician, forming your own string quartet, trio, duo, or other mixed ensemble while establishing your own private teaching studio?
    • What about commissioning and performing music by composers of our time and presenting them in creative and innovative ways?

    Perhaps you envision doing it all! Yes, it's possible!

    Acquire the advanced musical skills, concepts, and sensitivities essential to your life as a professional musician in our four-year undergraduate or two-year graduate program. Students will develop skills through intensive study of applied music working individually with our world-class faculty. They will gain further experience in large and small music ensembles and solo performances including a required junior and senior solo recital for undergraduates and a graduate degree recital. In addition, they will study music theory, music history and other foundational courses in music.

    Program Details

    : For Music Performance majors, I encourage you to also consider a double major or minor in Arts and Entertainment Management, Public Relations, Finance, or Entrepreneurship . It is essential to be a technically skilled and musically mature cellist but it is equally important to know how to set up your own art-related ventures and navigate the professional world. Cultivating knowledge in these areas can help advance your career as a performer, help you successfully execute creative projects (from conception to final product), and make you a highly desirable candidate in job searches!

  • Bachelor of Arts in Music

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    • Do you want to pursue a music-related career while still having a broad liberal arts education?
    • Are you interested in where the music industry overlaps with entrepreneurship, community building, business, finance, law, journalism, production, operations, arts administration, musicology, and/or public relations/media?

    Our Bachelor of Arts in Music will equip you with musical expertise, within a broad liberal arts education, to meet your goal. It is an innovative degree program flexibly designed for real-world integration of music and the arts. You can combine the music major with a minor or second major in fields as diverse as arts management, communications, entrepreneurship, film studies, journalism, marketing, technology, etc. These are all essential skills that most professional musicians in the industry wish they learned while they were in school and we're thrilled to offer it to our students today! We are focused on inspiring 21st-century music professionals and that means equipping you with the most diverse set of skills.

    Program Details

I'm passionate about more than one thing. What are my double degree options?

  • Double Major

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    • Are you passionate about music and something completely different?
    • Would you prefer not having to choose one over the other?

    Fantastic! Through the double major process, you will be able to pursue your passions fully. Students most commonly pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Music or Music Performance degree simultaneously with a non-music degree without adding extra time or complexity. This will allow you to gain credentialed expertise in two different areas.

  • Double major in two music degrees

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    • Do you love to teach and perform?
    • Do you want to equip yourself with as many professional job opportunities upon graduation?

    We offer a double major in Music Education and Music Performance simultaneously. It is a "double major" in the same way a business student might also pursue an economics degree. Education and Performance are often equally desired by incoming music students.

    The majority of professional performers are also music educators whether that is teaching in their own private studios or in a community school/academy; in a college, university, or conservatory; or giving public coaching sessions and masterclasses as a guest artist at music festivals. Being a high-level performer does not guarantee that you will be a great teacher so gaining the skills and expertise in both areas can be a strong advantage especially for those applying for jobs upon graduation.

    While it is difficult to double major in Music Education and Music Therapy due to the certification requirements, it is not impossible. We have had recent students pursue these possibilities. This can result in additional semesters of study, but for those who have divided passions it is possible.

    Students must audition for and be accepted into both programs. Once acceptance has been achieved, please see The School of Music & Dance advisor to explore the coursework pathway.

I don't want to major in music but I love the cello and still want to be involved. What are my non-degree options?

Once a cellist, always a cellist! I encourage students from across our campus to be involved in music in some way, shape, or form during your time at Eastern. Playing music not only relieves stress, but can enrich your university experience and connect you with other creative individuals in the EMU Community who are passionate about music and art. You can register for music courses or if you want to be even more deeply immersed, audition to be a music minor. Learn more below!

  • Register for Orchestra and Cello Lessons

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    • Did you used to play in your high school orchestra, participate in Solo and Ensemble in All-State or other youth music programs?
    • Did you used to take private cello lessons?
    • Do you miss being immersed in a musical experience?

    If you're a non-music major, you can register and play in the Eastern Michigan University Symphony Orchestra directed by Dr. Chad Hutchinson. The orchestra is one big musical family and you will be part of the dynamic cello section that is comprised of music majors, minors and non-music majors. This is a great opportunity to perform a wide variety of repertoire including major symphonic masterpieces and lesser known musical gems! The EMUSO performs on average six concerts per year, including the popular Halloween Concert in October, a fully-staged ballet in December and for the EMU Orchestra Festival in the Winter semester. Symphony Orchestra is offered during both the fall and winter semesters. Our major ensembles can also help to fulfill Group 3 and 5 of the Learning Beyond the Classroom requirement.


    • Full Orchestra: Tues. and Thurs. 1–2:50 p.m., 106 Alexander Music Building
    • String Orchestra: Wed. 1–2:50 p.m., 106 Alexander Music Building

    EMU Symphony Orchestra

    If you participate in orchestra, I highly recommend students to also take one-on-one cello lessons. This allows you to be part of the EMU CELLO studio, participate in our studio classes, and strengthen your individual playing. Not only will you enhance your playing experience, you'll be creating a synergy between your own musical growth in lessons and the orchestra. If you're interested in one-on-one lessons, please contact Professor Deborah Pae.

  • General Education Program

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    The General Education Program is the basis for life long learning and participation in a global world. It provides a rich experience, across a wide range of academic activities, and it promotes intellectual curiosity and a love of learning. Like a major, it is a program that students must complete in order to earn a bachelors degree. Our School of Music & Dance offers a variety of exciting and insightful courses for students who have an interest in music. Even if you are not a music major or minor, continue feeding your artistic passions by taking one of the following courses!

    • MUSC 100 Music Theory Fundamentals
    • MUSC 105 Appreciating Jazz: America's Music
    • MUSC 107 Music Appreciation
    • MUSC 108 World Music
    • MUSC 115 Intro to Digital Music
    • MUSC 132 Voice Class for Non-Majors
    • MUSC 152 Piano Class for Non-Majors
  • Become a Music Minor

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    • If you enjoy playing in orchestra and taking lessons but want to immerse yourself even further by reinforcing your knowledge in music theory, aural skills, functional piano, and any other interesting music courses, you might consider officially auditioning for us as a Music Minor.

    All prospective students (including transfers) must apply to the School of Music & Dance and complete an entrance audition. Check out our Auditions page to see the audition requirements!

    Program Details

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